The Eagle Nebula is a young open cluster of stars in the constellation Serpens.
What is the Eagle Nebula?
The Eagle Nebula, also known as Messier 16 or M16, and as NGC 6611, and the Star Queen Nebula and The Spire, is a young open cluster of stars in the constellation Serpens, discovered by Jean-Philippe de Chéseaux in 1745–46.
Both the “Eagle” and the “Star Queen” refer to visual impressions of the dark silhouette near the center of the nebula, an area made famous as the “Pillars of Creation” photographed by the Hubble Space Telescope. The nebula contains several active star-forming gas and dust regions, including the Pillars of Creation.
The Eagle Nebula is part of a diffuse emission nebula, or H II region, which is catalogued as IC 4703. This region of active current star formation is about 7000 light-years distant. A spire of gas that can be seen coming off the nebula in the northeastern part is approximately 9.5 light-years or about 90 trillion kilometers long.
The cluster associated with the nebula has approximately 8100 stars, which are mostly concentrated in a gap in the molecular cloud to the north-west of the Pillars. The cluster’s age has been estimated to be 1–2 million years.
The descriptive names reflect impressions of the shape of the central pillar rising from the southeast into the central luminous area. The name “Star Queen Nebula” was introduced by Robert Burnham, Jr., reflecting his characterization of the central pillar as the Star Queen shown in silhouette.
Image: NASA, ESA,the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)
Text: Wikipedia contributors. “Eagle Nebula.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 30 Jun. 2016. Web. 30 Jul. 2016.